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International Relations Terms

Terms in this set (149)

A set of models presented by political scientist Graham Allison in his book Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, which used the crisis as a case-study for governmental decision-making. Determined by answering three questions: 1. Why did the Soviet Union decide to place offensive missiles in Cuba? 2. Why did the United States respond to the missile deployment with a blockade? 3. Why did the Soviet Union withdraw the missiles? The models with answers to these questions:

Rational Actor Model: (weigh options) Governments are the major decision-makers and they come to their decisions by evaluating all the options and choosing the one with highest utility. The U.S.S.R placed missiles in Cuba to bridge the "missile gap" which existed between itself and the United States. Kennedy chose to blockade Cuba only after reviewing several options, including invasion, because it wouldn't escalate into war. The Soviets then had to back down to avoid the risk of nuclear war.

Organizational Process Model: (government bureaucracy) Government leaders don't look at a problem as a whole--they assign different responsibilities to pre-existing departments and organizations and they settle on the first solution to adequately address the situation, and such solutions are often pre-existing (a result of the sluggish nature of government bureaucracy). The U.S.S.R assigned responsibility of setting up a foreign military base to existing departments as they had never done this before and as such mistakes were made which tipped-off the U.S. Kennedy chose to blockade Cuba instead of responding with force because unlike the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy was able to provide a non-lethal option. The Soviets had no organized back-up plan and so had to back down.

Governmental Politics Model: (bargaining-->outcome)Government decisions should be understood as resulting from negotiations between several factions and competing interests. Leaders must act by building consensus in order to maintain power. Khrushchev felt his power base was being threatened by the military and so used this aggressive move to pacify his military generals and reassert control. Kennedy responded so forcefully in order to stem criticism from Republicans who were making Cuba a policy priority after the Bay of Pigs incident. Khrushchev agreed to remove nukes after getting Kennedy to publicly promise that he would never invade Cuba.

Significance: Attempts to explain decision making process for IR via different schools of thought.